As I believe Boneshaker’s premise makes clear, this is a work of fiction—but I’ve always enjoyed including local landmarks in my novels, and this one is no exception. However, let me take a moment to assure you that I’m fully aware of this book’s particularly grievous and shameless warping of history, geography, and technology.
My motives were simple and selfish: I needed a Seattle that was much more heavily populated in my version of 1863 than real life’s version of 1863. And so, as the first chapter explains, I’ve accelerated the Klondike gold rush by a few decades, and thus swelled the city’s ranks exponentially. Therefore, when I speak of thousands of rotters and a large urban area having been evacuated and sealed, I speak of a population of some 40,000 souls, not the mere 5,000 or so that history was unkind enough to give me.
As some of you local buffs are aware, I’ve also ignored a couple of major turning points in Seattle’s development: the 1889 fire that destroyed most of the city and the 1897 Denny Hill regrade. Since both of these events took place well after the events of this book (which transpired in 1880), I had a fair bit of leeway when making up my version of Pioneer Square and its surrounding blocks.
For reference’s sake, I used a Sanborn survey map from 1884 to make sure that I loosely, generally followed the likely lay of the land, but heaven knows I went off the rails a bit here and there.
Assuming a much earlier, much bigger population base, it is not altogether outside the realm of reason that some of Seattle’s landmark buildings might’ve been under way in the 1860s, before the wall went up.
That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it.
So there’s no need to send me helpful e-mails explaining that King Street Station wasn’t started until 1904, that the Smith Tower wasn’t begun until 1909, or that Commercial Street is really First Avenue. I know the facts, and every digression from them was deliberate.
At any rate, thank you for reading, and thank you for suspending your disbelief for a few hundred pages. I realize that the story is a bit of a twisted stretch, but honestly—isn’t that what steampunk is for?